A daredevil who died after plunging over Niagara Falls in an apparent stunt with an inflatable ball might have brought a boa constrictor along for the ride.
After Kirk Jones’ death, New York State Park police found a website with a photo of him and the 7-foot snake named Misty previewing his plans and selling T-shirts and photos, the Niagara Gazette reported Wednesday.
“Believe in the Impossible Kirk Jones + Misty Conquer Niagara Falls NY 2017,” read the site, which has since been taken down.
Investigators believe he died April 19, the same day tourists spotted an 8-foot plastic ball, its zippered hatch clearly open, spinning in the Niagara River rapids before it went over the brink.
The snake hasn’t been found, though an empty snake cage was found in Jones’ parked van. Exotic-pet experts told police it wouldn’t have survived the cold water.
Footage from a crashed drone belonging to Jones, found by a parks employee April 20, shows only rushing water.
We were looking for him and a 7-foot boa constrictor,” Park Police Detective Sgt. Brian Nisbet said.
Police don’t know whether Jones fell or climbed out of the ball before reaching the brink.
Jones, 53, became the first person known to survive the plunge over Niagara Falls without a safety device in October 2003, when he climbed over a rail and into the water in an apparent suicide attempt.
The feat brought fleeting fame for the then-unemployed salesman from Canton, Michigan, and a brief stint in the circus, but he had been out of the public eye in recent years.
Police listed his most recent address as Spring Hill, Florida.
Although such stunts are illegal, several daredevils have survived trips over Niagara Falls in various contraptions, beginning with Annie Edison Taylor, who rode over in an oak barrel in 1901.
At least two other men have survived unprotected plunges since Jones did it.
In a story in the Niagara Frontier, the paper wrote an extensive article about what happened.
On Monday October 20th 2003 at 12:45 p.m., Kirk Raymond Jones became the first human in recorded history to go over the Horseshoe Falls unaided and survive virtually unscathed. The most remarkable aspect was that he did so without any safety and/or flotation device.
The 40 year old, single and unemployed man from Canton Michigan (south of Detroit) came to the City of Niagara Falls on Saturday October 18th along with a his friend Bob Krueger of Garden City, Michigan. Both spend several nights at a local motel on Lundy’s Lane before his actual stunt. In preparation , Jones had bought a used video camera. His plan was to have Krueger video record Jones’ feat for prosperity, historical and perhaps for financial reasons. Unfortunately Krueger didn’t learn to properly operate the video camera before the event and did not capture any part of it on videotape.
Kirk Jones carried through with his plan of jumping into to upper Niagara River approximately 20 feet from the brink of the Horseshoe Falls at the Table Rock of the Niagara Parks Commission property along the Canadian shore. Jones, wearing only the clothes on his back, was quickly swept over the Falls (170 feet) to the plunge pool basin below.
Seconds later Kirk Jones emerged from the turbulent waters below and was able to pull himself to safety onto a rock a short distance away from the cataracts. Here he remained stranded until the arrival of emergency service personnel who rescued him from his precarious perch and transported him to the top of the gorge. Jones was transported to the Greater Niagara General Hospital suffering only minor rib injuries.
Kirk Jones was admitted to the psychiatric unit on an involuntary basis pending an assessment. Jones stated that his stunt wasn’t a stunt at all but a failed attempt at suicide. Others close to Jones including family members contradict this view and have indicated that Kirk Jones had planned to go over the Falls as a stunt for the fame and fortune including gainful employment which he believed would follow.
The planning process was described as very unsophisticated and unscientific.
Whatever the motive, Kirk Raymond Jones has etched his name forever in the annals of Niagara Falls daredevil history.
Jones was subsequently arrested upon his release from hospital and charged with Mischief and Performing a Stunt with the Niagara Parks.
On December 18th 2003, Jones returned to court. He plead guilty to both charged and was fined $3,000 and in addition was ordered to reimburse the Niagara Parks – Journey Behind the Falls attraction $1,408 for the money they lost during the 45 minutes the attraction had closed to facilitate Jones rescue.
Jones has since been employed by the Toby Tyler Circus of Texas to perform as yet undefined stunts.
Photo credit: David Duprey | Associated Press